With Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia, three of the twenty-one member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA in short) will soon be introducing the digital certificate of origin.

The “Electronic Certificate of Origin” (abbreviated to e-CoO) covers the entire process from the application over the authorization procedure to the issuing of the proof of origin. The necessary adaptation of the national systems of the first three pilot project countries has already taken place. Alongside Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia, twelve other members of the alliance expressed their interest in evaluating the new electronic system in June 2020.

The implementation of the e-CoO with the declared aim of reducing the costs and effort involved in obtaining certificates of origin, was authorized by the corresponding Council of Ministers back in 2014. The official document provides exporters within the COMESA free trade zone with preferential treatment for cross-border exports of goods. The electronic certificate of origin is another partial success of the ongoing digitalization of official formalities to promote a liberalized trade system in large parts of Africa.

In the future, the EU will also negotiate economic partnership agreements (EPA) with other African countries in addition to the COMESA group of states. Initial exploratory talks with Rwanda (linked article in German language) are already being considered. The bilateral trade agreement between the EU and Kenya, which has already been signed by both sides, is expected to come into force in June.

Source: GTAI (German)